You've been warned.
Advertisement

There are plenty of shrubs, trees, and flowers you should avoid planting in your garden. Some you should steer clear of because of their smelly blooms (bye-bye, Bradford pear), and others are just too darn invasive. The latter take over and create a real conundrum for gardeners who have to work year after year to eradicate them from their yard. This go-round, we're underscoring a recommendation we find ourselves making over and over again: In your garden, avoid planting chameleon plant at all costs.

"But it's so pretty!" you say. You might be right. Chameleon plant has brightly colored foliage that blends shades of red, pink, green, and yellow into attractive combinations. What we call chameleon plant is Houttuynia cordata 'Tricolor,' and it gets its name from those distinctive leaves.

This is where your protestations fall away: This plant spreads like there's no tomorrow. Grumpy describes it like this: "Usually planted as a ground cover or a color plant for the shade, it spreads by every way imaginable. Thick networks of roots snake through the ground. Pieces that fall on the ground take root." Those thick networks make it very difficult to eradicate once they take root and start spreading. What's worse, it is a hardy grower and can thrive in most any conditions. Don't think you're out of the woods just because your garden is dry and sunny or shady and wet. Chameleon plant will grow, and fast. Then it will likely lose its visual interest when the leaves fade to green.

Chameleon Plant
Credit: REDA&CO/Getty Images

If it has taken over your garden, there's not much hope for salvaging the space and getting rid of the chameleon plant altogether. Ever the realist, Grumpy recommends the most drastic of measures to deal with chameleon plant once it has spread: "Set off a tactical nuclear weapon in your garden. Pave over your garden with a foot of concrete." If you can't do those things, you might just find yourself drowning in a sea of regrets—and chameleon plant.

What ground covers have you sworn off planting in your yard? Are there any invasive plants you struggle to keep in check in your garden?